The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day--Using less yeast

Janknitz's picture

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day--Using less yeast

I know that one of the major criticisms of the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a day method is that it uses too much yeast and the quick fermentation does not permit good flavor development.

The authors have addressed those concerns here by demonstrating that the techniques can still work using significantly less yeast and a much longer fermentation period.

I decided to do a "head to head" test between the Master recipe using the full amount of yeast (2 1/4 tsp for a HALF batch)  and the Master recipe using much less yeast (1/4 tsp for a half batch).  The  low yeast version fermented  for 10 hours before being refrigerated, the regular yeast version for only two hours. 

Details are posted on my blog here.  The bottom line was that the low yeast version is much tastier and has a better texture and crust than the regular version.  But all of the convenience of the ABin5 method is still there.  It's like having your bread (cake) and eating it too. 

If you've been hesitant to try ABin5 because of the amount of yeast and the quick fermentation, you might consider giving it a second look using much less yeast.  I'm very pleased with the results and will be using less yeast from now on. 

JoeV's picture

IMHO, ABin5 is nothing more than capitalizing on the no-knead recipe developed by Jim Leahey. I bought the book thinking it was something different, only to find that is was nothing new. I have made the "Master Dough" just like regular no-knead dough, and got the same results as you. ABin5 is nothing more than a compilation of no-knead recipes. Sorry if this bursts anyone's bubble, but it is what it is. And yes, they do use too much yeast.

BettyR's picture

You are right, it is the same only different in that you have the big batch of dough sitting in your frig that you can cut a hunk off of, let it come to room temp while you are making supper and toss it in the oven for hot out of the oven...freshly baked bread with your meal. Using only what you would eat for that meal. It' convenience bread...wonderfully tasty, fast, no muss no fuss. Not to everyone's taste true... but then that's why they make chocolate and vanilla ice cream...not everyone likes the same thing.

taurus430's picture

Joe, I just came upon this thread about both methods of which I use. I had been baking Lahey's method for a year (2008) before even wanting to try ABin5. I had to reply because I remember a while back getting a no knead pizza dough recipe from your site, using Abin5 and you have it in full and half quantities. I for one do not like using a wet dough for pizza. Abin5 might be a little better, but Lahey, I believe, had to use a different recipe for pizza. I'll stick with the WP recipe for pizza.

reagle's picture

To be fair, "Five Minutes" was in production and just about to be published when the Bittman/Lahey article was published in the New York Times, so it is not as if they just ripped it off.

In any case, I too prefer the taste of the lower yeast/long ferment of the Lahey bread. However, I also like being able to bake breads other than in a pot. So I have been working both "My Bread" and "Five Minutes" to figure out what works best. Presently, I would describe myself as using the Lahey method with the addition of refrigeration (which works fine) and the "gluten cloak" from the five minute approach. Consequently, I don't see either these approaches as dichotomous, instead complementarity, with plenty of interesting recipes to go around.

suave's picture

Well, that simply isn't true, Bin5 was published more than a year after the original NYT article, and we have all seen now that it takes less time than that to put a book together.

spacey's picture

Check out the ABin5 web page.  The project started years before Lahey got publicity for his method.  Note he called into the radio show "The Splendid Table" in 2000 with the idea for the book (see and scroll down to the youtube recording), so this wasn't a 1-year sprint to follow-up the times article.

In addition, many people credit a bakery in LA (whose name I don't remember) with having the first no-knead bread book, so though it's nice that you're defending Lahey, as he himself says this is the old way of making bread.

My personal beef with ABin5 is every new baker who appears on uses the term "sourdough-like qualities".  That's just misleading.

That and the over-yeasting, no discussion of sourdoughs (which Lahey's book doesn't cover) not enough coverage of shaping and handling, and every book that tells you to add sugar/honey/anything but salt, flour, and water to a pizza dough gets under my skin.

But that's just me. I'm new to this, so I'm sure I'll develop more unreasonable prejudices over time.

EvaB's picture

I agree that the ABin5 bashing is a bit overdone, after all too many people think of the same thing at the same time, its just how they get done and when they get done, besides you can't copyright ideas, you can copyright your drawings, and your writing, but not the idea especially one that has been around as long as this one (over 1000 years for sure)

I agree the yeast levels are high, and I am not into sweet in pizza crust either, but the basic way of doing it, is what I can relate to, since it doesn't require the arm killing kneading that the "regular" way does. The taste does develop and while its not sour dough, its working its way towards it.

The thing is its an easy way for people to get started baking bread, and if some never get past it, that's ok, and if some people explore other ways and recipes, that's ok too, but to put it down totally is wrong!

These books are the ONLY reason I found this site, because I started baking bread, and looked for a few different recipes. AND found them here. I have printed off many, some of which aren't likely to ever get made, but I have them if I decide to make them, and some of which when I finally get the room finished I will have time to try out.

EvaB's picture

I am actually baking bread because of Bread in Five, and don't think they ripped off anyone, or anyone ripped off them, they simply had similar approaches at the same time, it happens, where do you thinkk the saying "great minds think alike" came from!

I don't find any taste differnce in the bread, to my mother's breads, which were lower yeast, proofed and baked, all in the same day, the convience of being able to bake a loaf fresh daily or every other day, without spending hours mixing waiting and baking, out weights for me the snob appeal of tastes better. Just leave it in the fridge longer! It will taste better when baked later.

My take is if it gets one baking bread (an I could never do the other kind) then go for it, at least you know what is going in it, how long it was baked and who did it, you don't have to wonder where the bakery in the store got its frozen loaves, how far they traveled to get to said store, and how long they've been in the freezer or left on the loading dock!

All I know is my husband loves it, can't find any fault with it and he like me grew up with a mother who baked her own bread for way too many years. so if he likes it I'm not going to quit making it.

LLM777's picture

I was wondering... you said you waited 36 hours until first mixed to make your first loaf of bread (reduced yeast). Is that necessary to wait that long? I would assume after the initial 10 hour room temp rise you could bake it the next day after refrigeration that night or is it still in the cold fermentation period with the reduction of yeast?


I am extremely pleased with knowing you can reduce the yeast; I was finding the bread was too yeasty and alcoholic tasting and had stopped making it. Thank you for experimenting.

spacey's picture

In my experience, a wet no-knead dough is good to bake after the initial rise.  It's easier to handle after putting it in the fridge, though, because the starches are stiffer so it's easier to remove a chunk, weigh/measure/etc. without the wet dough flowing around your fingers (in the worst case :)

The 36 hour is an optional timeframe within which the dough is only getting better. Flavor develops while in the fridge. I think there's more coverage of this in the tutorials on this site, or in links from the tutorials.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.  I need to get back to work.

loafgeek's picture


ronhol's picture

Jan, I am happy to find some other ABI5 fans here.

I would not even be here, were it not for Zoe and Jeff's book, so I am grateful they published it.

I am  baking bread almost daily, for the first time in my life, thanks to their book.

I am now trying to refine the end product, that's why I'm here.

I tried a couple different experiments today. I formed a loaf last eve, placed it on parchment paper, covered with plastic wrap, and let it rest in the frig over night.

Then today, I let it rest on the counter for an hour, and baked it.

The result was a really open crumb, the most open yet, with many holes around 1/4".

The down side, the crust is thick and tough, probably because I baked it for an extended time, and then let it rest in the warm oven, in an attempt to dry out the crumb.

It worked, but the flavor was less than the previous loaf from the same batch, a few days ago.

Then tonight, while mixing a couple more fresh batches, I took a small amount from my pail before the 2 hour counter rise, and put it in a greased loaf pan.

I then let it rise on the counter for about 90 minutes, till it filled the pan.

Then put in a 450 oven for 35 minutes.

The result was a beautiful loaf, with a great flavor.

I'm with your little one, I'm kind of partial to the yeast flavor, especially while still slightly warm.

I just finished a toasted slice, with butter and cinnamon sugar, yummy!

I also have a batch of cracked wheat, low yeast (I had about 2/3 cup of left over dough from my last batch, which I whisked into my warm water for a starter) plus I used about 1/2 to 3/4 tablespoon of yeast, 1/2 as much as the recipe calls for.

It's already doubled in size in 3 hours, so I don't know that I need to leave it out over night.

My ongoing concern with this method is however, the moisture content of the crumb, and the small holes in the crumb.

I have studied Jeff and Zoe's website, but found little encouragement on these points.

Not to mention how disorganized and rambling, and hopelessly long the threads are.

loafgeek's picture

I've been using the no knead dough bin technique for a couple years now--it works quite well for me for sourdough boules and pizzas.  The bread tastes better a few days in the fridge--even 5 days is better--because it gets more flavorful and sour in there fermenting.

I don't use instant yeast to start my batch.. I pull a couple hundred grams of 100% hydration sourdough starter and throw it in a plastic shoe box (comes with a free lid $1-2 at walmart).  I then add the filtered water and salt and mix for a minute or so distrubuting the yeast and acid producing bacteria around in the water.  I then add 50% bread flour and mix in with spoon until just combined.  I then add 50% all purpose flour and work that in with my bare hands.  (EDIT: I suppose it'd make more sense to mix the two flours together first before adding to the water/starter.)

This bin sits out and rises on my counter for about 12 hours usually then I throw it in the fridge.

A few days later i'll get my scale out and grab 890 grams of that dough from the bin for my sourdough boule.  I form it into a tight ball with just a few pulls then throw it in my container of flour excessively coating it.  I line my baneton with rice flour then put the dough in the banneton and cover it with a cloth for a few hours until it is risen to a nice dome.  I'll preheat the oven to 450F with my paula dean 3 qt covered cast iron casserole/dutch oven.  Cook it for 25 minutes covered then 5 minutes uncovered.

Makes a very nice flavorful *sourdough* loaf of bread with nice gas pockets and a crunchy crackly yummy crust.

I really do like this method but it doesn't work for RYE dough I find out! lol.  So I purchased Hamelman's book the other day and look forward to the 80% rye recipe.  I am diabetic and sourdough rye is about the best bread a diabetic could eat I read (that and pumpernickel).

I can't wait for Hamelman's book!

LT72884's picture

I love this book. i knew NOTHING and i mean NOTHING of baking till i saw this at amazon. Zoe, jeff and i have had a few converstations about some of my stuff because i was so new to baking, i had no idea what all purpose flour was. Didnt know there was such a difference to. Best investment ever!

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

NK bread has been around a lot longer than either AB5 OR Jim Lahey.  I have a Pillsbury cookbook from the 40's called "Bake the No-Knead Way", and the idea wasn't new then.

Nobody's ripping anybody off.  That's like griping about whose pie crust recipe came first.  The answer is, we have no idea - it's lost in the mists of time.

taurus430's picture

I made a half batch of Olive Oil Dough (ABin5), followed the instructions, and took it out the next day and made Italian rolls. This is the second time doing this and I like it a lot.

 I tried making the loaf or boule with ABin5, but I prefer Lehey's method for the Boule in the cast iron pot. ABin5's method just didn't come out as high.  I probably will use both methods for different things. I never tried refrigerating Lehey's dough, always baked it the next day. That is something for me to try next.